Oct 20, 2015

Touring Texas: Fort Griffin Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp Big Nosed Kate and More

Fort Griffin

Hello and I hope by now you are learning something new about Texas.  I sure learned a lot while visiting.  Today is about our trip to this very interesting piece of history.  We arrived here in the afternoon and it was well over 100 degrees.  It was much too hot to tour the fort.  There is a minimal fee and you can take the tour on golf carts for your comfort.  We just weren't able to enjoy that on such a hot day.  We did meet a wonderful young man named Eric Abercrombie.  He enjoyed talking with Mr. Wheeler about his walking cane.  We all enjoyed talking with Eric.  The steer on the wall had been one that participated in more than a dozen Fandangle Productions through the years at the fort.  Did you know that The Official State of Texas Longhorn Herd resides at Fort Griffin. 

Ms. Neta and Eric
Fort Griffin Website
Fort Griffin State Historic Site Facebook
Eric told us of the town down below Fort Griffin known as "The Flat".  Since it was such a hot day that would indeed be something we could tour in the comfort of the air conditioned "Howard Hughes Cadillac" of Mr. Wheelers.

Fort Griffin is located near Albany, Texas.  It was established around 1867 after the Civil War.  The video below gives a pretty good summary of the fort. Mini Fort Griffin Documentary here

Down to "The Flat" we went.  I was so excited to see the spot where "Doc Holliday", Wyatt Earp, "Big Nosed Kate", Bat Masterson and others met.  They have quite interesting life stories, legends.  Today we focus on Fort Griffin and this is where they met!  The Toughest Town in the Texas"!

Fort Griffin sat on the high ground above the river.   A settlement developed between it and the water's edge.  The town know also as "The Flat" included merchants, cattlemen and their families.  Its permanent populace supported a newspaper, the Fort Griffin Echo, as well as an academy, Masonic lodge and several stores and saloons.  A rough element of cowboys, gamblers and renegades mixed with black and white troops to form a lawless scene.  Among those attracted to the town were Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Lottie Deno, Big Nose Kate, Hurricane Bill and Hurricane Minnie. credit for paragraph. Video of the Fort here

John Henry Holliday
"Doc Holliday"
Originally from Georgia John Henry Holliday went to school to become a dentist.  He had lost his mother, she was young and had Tuberculosis.  He himself would come down with the disease later. His illness made it impossible to practice dentistry.  It is said he then drank too much after that and was quick tempered.  He and Wyatt Earp became friends and continued to be friends until Doc Holliday's death.  read more here
I think that a quote about him from Wyatt Earp describes him best.

"I found him a loyal friend and good company.  He was a dentist whom necessity had made a gambler; a gentleman whom disease had made a vagabond; a philosopher whom life had made a caustic wit; a long, lean, blonde fellow nearly dead with consumption and at the same time the most skillful gambler and nerviest, speediest, deadliest man with a six-gun I ever knew." credit

Big Nosed Kate 

It is at Fort Griffin where Doc met his mate or common law wife, Mary Katherine Mahoney known to have many names but the name "Big Nosed Kate" stuck.  She was raised in foster homes until she ran away.  She was even in a convent but didn't stay there for long.  She introduced Holliday to Wyatt Earp.. read more here and here 

Wyatt Earp
Frontier Lawman of the American West

Wyatt and Doc met in Shanssey's Saloon at Fort Griffin's the Flat.   Wyatt was a gambler, buffalo hunter, stagecoach driver, saloon owner, Deputy Sheriff Deputy Town Marshall, many things.  Wyatt was soft spoken with nerves of steel He survived countless gunfights due to his patience and resolute manner. He and Doc traveled to the same places where Wyatt was the lawman like Dodge City, Tombstone and others for years.  He stated that Doc Holliday had saved his life.  read more here and here
Videos but who knows what is true and what is not?
Wyatt Earp The Real Story of The Legend a Documentary here
Gunfight at The OK Corral Documentary here

Bat Masterson
Bat Masterson signature.svg 
 Born in Canada
Army Scout, Buffalo Hunter, Journalist, Gunfighter and Lawman.  President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Masterson Deputy to U S Marshall to the Southern District of New York.  He and President Roosevelt were friends but was removed when President William Howard Taft became President.
He sold his famous six-gun "The gun that tamed the West" because he needed money.  He is buried in New York.  There are many websites of him and the others but you can read more here

Lottie Deno,  Lady Gambler "The Poker Queen"   here 
**Lottie was the prototype for "Miss Kitty" in the television series Gunsmoke**
Don't you just love this!  I do!

Lottie at an early age took off with an acquaintance of her father's and he enticed her to gamble.  Her mother was not happy about this since her education had been in Christian schools.  One of Lottie's gambling opponents was Doc Holliday.
It was Fort Griffin that she chose this name Lottie Deno, before then she had been called "Mystic Maud".

I was just thrilled to be where these legendary men and women had met, gambled, policed.  I have to say this it was a very small area.  Sometimes we build up things in our minds and when we see these things they are much smaller than we imagined.  Of course most of this town had long gone but few buildings stood original.  One was the jail.  

The Jail
The walls were thick but it was a very small building.  
Can you imagine 18 at a time in this jail? 

Small wooden buildings and showing the size of the stone jail in comparison

Shaunessy's Saloon where Doc Holliday, Bignose kate and Wyatt Earp met
The building standing there now has been recreated on top of the original foundation.
Frankel's Store on the right.  
(I'm just not sure the correct spelling for the saloon because it is different on every site researched.)

Frontier House

 Thorpe's Blacksmith

Fort Griffin Lodge Hall 

The cows were staying cool underneath the trees

I had to share this picture because you see Mr. Wheeler is a hero of mine too.  I'm very proud to have been in Texas with him and his family!  He is one of a kind and all who talk to him know this!  He has a sparkle in his eye and a grin that would melt an iceberg!  
We did so enjoy talking to Eric about Fort Griffin and The Flat, the town below!  He will answer all of your questions and make sure you have a great time. If you get the chance do go check out the fort.  Texas has such a rich history!  

Links below for the rest of Touring Texas

More Posts of Our Texas Trip:
What are the Odds? The story of meeting my dad's WWII Army Buddy
Touring Texas:  Frontier Texas with Mr. Wheeler in his Howard Hughes Cadillac!
Touring Texas:  Meeting the Wheelers
Touring Texas:  Let's Go to Buffalo Gap
Touring Texas: Jimmie Ray's Appaloosas
Touring Texas:  Randall The Cowboy Poet
Touring Texas:  On The Road In Texas 
Until next time,


  1. What a wonderful, informative post, Dolly. I learned a lot here tonight. Believe it or not, I used to date a guy that looked just like Bat Masterson. It is eerie because I don't think I ever saw a picture of him before the resemblance is uncanny. I am so glad you are recording all of that here. Have a great night- xo Diana

    1. Hey Diana, Thank you and about that guy you dated, I don't doubt it one bit. Bat Masterson seemed to be quite a dapper man! I hope you are having a good night too!

  2. I enjoyed this post. Now I really want to go to Texas. I just love western history like this. Thanks Dolly.

    1. If I know you you will go and come back with some very interesting things to do and see!...I love it too Kim! History gives a place meaning doesn't it? A little plot of land and small buildings holds so much history it is mind boggling!..Thank you!

  3. Lovely post! I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for the information!